$8.9 million renovation of Eighth Street YMCA into lofts moves forward; Indian Springs project tabled

The renovation of the former Eighth Street YMCA building at 8th and Armstrong Avenue moved forward at a committee meeting earlier this week.

A neighborhood revitalization special project application for the YMCA project moved forward and is on the 7 p.m. July 11 Unified Government Commission meeting agenda at the Commission Chambers, City Hall, lobby level, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

The neighborhood revitalization application for the renovation project moved forward from the Monday night UG Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting.

According to UG officials, the $8.9 million project will turn the former YMCA facility into 44 senior units with mixed income rentals. Construction will start in September 2019 with a completion date projected in November 2020, according to officials.

The project is using historic preservation tax credits and has applied for neighborhood revitalization tax rebate program, according to officials. The part of the project to be voted on Thursday is the neighborhood revitalization project application. It is a 20-year, 75 percent rebate. It could increase to 85 percent if local, women and minority goals are reached.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan, who represents the 2nd District, where the Y facility is located, said at the committee meeting that while the facility’s developers, Prairie Fire Development and Kelley Hrabe, are asking for a reduction of the ongoing property tax, they are restoring a historic building and keeping it as an asset to seniors 55 and older. The project moved forward Monday on a 6-0 vote.

Because the YMCA was a not-for-profit, this building has not paid property taxes in the past, McKiernan said, and the building now will pay thousands of dollars above what it has historically paid, besides being a clean, affordable place for senior citizens to live.

As the Y building is being turned into senior housing, the downtown area may have another location for the YMCA in the future, according to sources. Discussions are underway for a shared YMCA-KCKCC space in the Reardon Convention Center at 5th and Minnesota Avenue, sources said. The space would be renovated and used for Kansas City Kansas Community College classes and YMCA programs under the proposal. If that becomes a reality, the YMCA would be located close to the new grocery store planned for 5th and Minnesota, echoing an earlier plan, but scaled-down from the former Healthy Campus proposal. That former development proposal was for the 10th and State area.

KC Foodie Park project tabled for a month

A development agreement for the KC Foodie Park at the former Indian Springs shopping center was tabled at the Monday night committee meeting. It will not be on the July 11 UG Commission meeting agenda.

The mixed-use development includes a 266,000-square-foot food service center, which is an industrial building; a 26-acre solar energy field to provide energy for the service center; 12,000 square feet of neighborhood retail, entertainment or restaurant uses on three pad sites on State Avenue; additional commercial buildings from 15,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet of food service and commercial users; and a 60,000-square-foot multitenant building to serve as offices for Scavuzzo’s and the developer.

Commissioners had many questions, including about what is included in the project, and the timing of it. Commissioner Melissa Bynum proposed to table the project for a month so they could study the information.

Commissioner Jim Walters asked if the UG was selling 50 acres for $400. He also wanted to know why the UG agreed to such minimum requirements in the development agreement.

UG staff said they wanted to make sure the project got done, was successful and greatly exceeded expectations.

Walters said if developers of the Turner Logistics project can pay market rate for land, develop on speculation and expect to make money, why would the UG give away the former Indian Springs property for $400?

UG staff replied that the Turner Logistics land was more than $400.

“We see this as much more than just a distribution project,” said Katherine Carttar, UG economic development director.

It is a mixed-use project that will bring 60,000-square-feet of office space, with a minimum retail space, and likely some multi-family or other food companies, she said.

The KC Foodie Park’s and Scavuzzo’s attorney, Curtis Petersen, responded that the vision is the same for the Foodie Park as what was originally proposed.

“Scavuzzo’s is putting all of their eggs in this basket,” he said at the committee meeting. “They care about every single pad that is sold. This is their brand, they’re branding the whole site Scavuzzo’s. This is their company, they plan to be here a long time.”

“We are absolutely devoted to getting the type of retail and restaurants you’ll be proud of at this site, but it takes a lot of work,” he said.

The agreement allows around three years for the developer to fill the State Avenue restaurant pad sites, and that time was set to make sure they get the best tenants, according to Peterson. The phases of the project stretch over six years, and there is a large investment in site work to be done, he said. Some of the time periods in the agreement were written that way in order to get agreement from investors.

The agreement calls for the KC Foodie Park to make the decisions on what developments will locate there, not the UG, and that is how it usually works, according to officials.

McKiernan was concerned about the Community Improvement District, which could start in December 2022 under the proposal. He said he would like to see more detail in the timing and how much money is estimated to go into it. He was also concerned about the land price. He also said he was confident about the project, just had some qualms about the financing details.

Carttar said what makes this land challenging is all the community interest and input. Adding features for the community is a tougher sell than one would anticipate, she said.

Each of the phases depends on the one before it to succeed, and the development agreement holds their feet to the fire if they don’t succeed, according to Petersen. There are penalties for not completing the fourth phase.

He said they backed into the nominal sale price for the land. When they figured the financial side of the project, they decided they could take a lower amount of money but not lose money on it, according to Petersen. “That is exactly how we arrived at it,” he said.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked about UG input on any of the other restaurants or vendors that come in.

UG staff said there are a number of restrictions, including a radius restriction for restaurants so that they don’t move there and close down a nearby restaurant. There also are restrictions against hookah bars, payday lenders and businesses that use street marketing.

UG staff said there were minimum requirements in certain categories. In most development agreements, the UG does not have the right to micro-manage what sort of restaurant they pick, according to an attorney working for the UG.

Petersen said there is a fifth-generation business, Scavuzzo’s, who will do what they say they will do, and if they didn’t, there are provisions in the agreement that have teeth.

Commissioner Tom Burroughs said he hoped the agreement would work out and they could look back as partners, and thanked them.

Bynum said they are excited about what could happen at this property with the Scavuzzo family, and moved to table the item for a month for more study and discussion.

In a public comment at the committee meeting, a resident and real estate agent who lives west of 100th Street stated, “Could they not just pay the property tax you would assess me on 50 acres of land?”

She compared the discussed $400 price of land to the $6,000 property tax payment she is paying for a little piece of land with a house on it, and asked what would happen if word got out that they sold the land for a small amount.

“It just seems unbelievable that you could get land on State Avenue for $400,” she said.

UG officials said the property’s value, and the real estate taxes, would go up after something is built on it.

While the committee held the item until next month’s meeting, it did pass two related items for the project, an ordinance terminating the 2007 Midtown TIF project plan, and a resolution that would set a public hearing of 7 p.m. July 25 on the Midtown TIF district amendment and project area – project plan.

Boulevard Lofts project moves forward

The Boulevard Lofts project in the 8th and Washington area moved forward in committee Monday night with a home rule economic development incentive and development agreement. It was not on the July 11 UG agenda, as it could require publication before being approved. The Prairie Fire Development project has 50 units for mixed incomes, with affordable units and 20 percent market rate units, according to officials. It is scheduled for completion in late summer 2020.

UG commissioners asked why the project was before them, since it has already broken ground.

UG officials said they needed to fill a financing gap in the project. The project had tax credits approved from the Kansas Housing Resources Corp., but as closure approached, the investor was not sure if the project would work because of a lack of other properties to compare it to downtown, officials said. This is the first multi-family development in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, in decades, according to officials.

To solve the shortfall in financing, the Board of Public Utilities awarded the project $250,000 from its economic development fund, and has requested the UG fill the remaining shortfall, officials said. A portion of the UG property tax is under discussion for the project. The UG has put a cap of 10 years and $200,000 on the reimbursable project costs.

A resident who lived west of 90th Street asked a question about who would live at the apartments. UG officials said the area is being renovated with a new grocery store coming in downtown, and is expected to attract new residents.

McKiernan said the property was made up of mostly Land Bank properties, and the UG was not getting property tax revenues from most of them. The property now will pay hundreds of thousands in taxes, even at a discounted rate, he said.

Downtown grocery store bonds on UG agenda July 11

An ordinance and resolution for downtown grocery store’s $1.4 million general obligation bonds is on the July 11 agenda. The bonds would be purchased by the Local Initiatives Support Corp.

Agreement for Fire Department equipment purchase

An agreement to lease Fire Department apparatus and equipment not exceeding $4.5 million is also on the agenda. In this agreement, the department would lease some new equipment, then turn it back in to the leasing company after a period of time. The agreement mentions four pumpers and two aerial apparatus.

Nominations on July 11 agenda

There are several nominations on the July 11 agenda, including:
David Meditz for Landmarks Commission Board, nominated by Mayor David Alvey.

Joanne Huey for Board of Zoning Appeals-City Planning Commission, nominated by Mayor Alvey.

Billy Brame for UG Board of Park Commissioners, nominated by Commissioner Melissa Bynum.

Susan White for Area Wide Advisory Council on Aging Wyandotte-Leavenworth, nominated by Commissioner Melissa Bynum;

Stephen Craddock for Landmarks Commission, nominated by Commissioner Angela Markley, and

Jim Ernst for Board of Zoning Appeals-City Planning Commission, nominated by Commissioner Angela Markley.

Budget workshop

A UG budget workshop will begin at 5 p.m. July 11 at the fifth-floor conference room, City Hall, 701 N. 7th St.

To see more details of the July 8 committee meeting, visit the meeting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZz8zFO9_Os.

To see all items on the Thursday UG agenda, visit www.wycokck.org.

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